The SmarK Rant for AEW Revolution 2023 – 03.05.23
Live from San Francisco, CA
Your hosts are Excalibur, Jim Ross & Taz, with Tony Schiavone quickly replacing JR.
Chris Jericho v. Ricky Starks
We get the hockey fight to start and Starks slugs away in the corner and chases Jericho to the floor for a brawl out there. Back in, Jericho puts him down, but misses the Lionsault, and then sends him to the floor again and into the injured ribs. Back in the ring, Jericho chokes him out in the corner and follows with a backbreaker, and Ricky takes a bump to the apron before Jericho hits him with a springboard dropkick and sends him to the floor again. JR: “You know, I was born here right down the street.” Taz: “So the whole Oklahoma thing is a work?” Back in the ring, Jericho works an abdominal stretch, but Ricky breaks free and comes back with a swinging DDT for two.
They fight to the top and Ricky blocks a superplex, but Jericho hits him with a knee to the ribs on the way down and a death valley driver gets two. Codebreaker is countered into a short powerbomb for two. Jericho counters the spear into the codebreaker, however, and that gets two. Jericho goes up and misses an axehandle, and Starks spears him for two. Back to the slugfest, but Starks catches him with a superkick and then Jericho takes him down for the Walls. Starks powers out of that and gets a half crab, but Sammy tries to interfere and Action Andretti cuts him off. This allows Jericho to grab the bat and hit Starks in the ribs…but Starks blocks the Judas Effect and finishes with the Rochambeau at 14:54. Really good opener with a hot crowd. ***1/2.
The FINAL BURIAL: Christian Cage v. Jungle Boy Jack Perry
I thought it was a Buried Alive match but I guess it’s just a casket match. So Christian’s new gear actually has a turtleneck on it, which is amazing. They slug it out to start and fight into the crowd as Perry puts the beats on Cage and then hauls him back into the ring and slugs away in the corner until Christian uses the hair to take over. Christian, always the gentleman, blows a kiss to Jack’s mother and chokes him out on the mat and on the ropes, but Jack fights back with a tope suicida and runs him into the stairs to make a comeback. Man that crowd has a potty mouth tonight. Stay classy, San Fran. Christian sweeps the leg and poor Jack takes a bump on the stairs, and Christian steals his belt and whips him like a hooker in 1923. Didn’t think I’d get to work in that reference already but here we are.
They fight to the casket burial area and Jack tries a piledriver on the mound of dirt, but Christian backdrops out of it and tries a Killswitch on a chair. Jack escapes that and sends him off the ramp and follows with a somersault dive, but Christian kicks him in the nuts and puts him in the casket. Perry fights out of that, but Christian hits the Killswitch on the dirt and then we get an epic chair v. shovel duel, although Taz makes sure to call a spade a spade. I guess that’s where the saying came from. So Jungle Boy chokes him out with the spade and then delivers a conchairto with no hestitation this time, and puts Cage in the coffin to end it at 14:48. Neat touch: After the win, Justin Roberts announces him as “Jungle” Jack Perry, because he’s not a Boy anymore. But all the announcers keep caling him “Jungle Boy” so who knows. Anyway, a good brawl and another really good match. ***1/2.
World Trios titles: The Elite v. The House of Black
I have to say, the Elite’s AEW x Street Fighter figures are pretty boss, but not for $40 Canadian each. Will I probably still buy them? Of course. The crowd is so hot that they sing along with Kansas, making them the first crowd to do so since 1982. Buddy trades wristlocks with Kenny to start and they fight to a stalemate. So it’s over to Black and the crowd is even hot for THAT. So they trade armdrag takedowns and Kenny goes for the Angel, but Black slips out of that and it’s another stalemate. Over to Matt and he wants Brody and then immediate regrets it and asks Nick for a tag instead. So Brody bowls everyone over and we get a Mexican standoff before they all slug it out and now it’s on. Matt dives onto Buddy and Black, and Kenny hits Brody with a rana to put him on the floor for the Terminator dive onto the whole House. Back in the ring, Nick hits Brody with a 450, but it only gets one. So Brody goes on another rampage and the House takes the Elite to the floor and smashes them into the railings in various ways.
Back in the ring, Nick rolls up Buddy for two, but Brody gets a corner splash and tosses him across the ring. Nick fights back with a spinkick and brings Omega in with a flying bodypress on Brody, but that just annoys Brody. Kenny guillotines him for two, but Brody gets the knees up to block You Can’t Escape. The Bucks hit Buddy and Black with superkicks and Kenny dodges a cannonball from King, and that gets two. Brody powers out of the snapdragon and blasts him with a lariat. Black hits Kenny with a high knee and rolls him into a kneebar. But the Bucks save and they all trade kicks, until we’re left with Omega and Black trading knees and they’re both down. Nick tries a springboard, but Julia trips him up and Brody chokes him out on the apron until Matt and Kenny save. Back in the ring, Kenny hits Black with a pair of snapdragons, but Julia distracts him and he accidentally hits her with a V-Trigger. But then Black hits the Black Mass off that and gets two. Dante’s Inferno on Kenny gets two as the Bucks save again. Brody takes them out with a dive outside and dumps them into the crowd to hopefully get rid of them, leaving Kenny to fight 1-on-3. But the Bucks save again and now the Elite are 3-on-1 and it’s a SUPERKICK PARTY on the House members, setting up the BTE Trigger on Black for two. Buddy saves this time and the Bucks try the Meltzer, but Buddy knees Matt in mid-air and Dante’s Inferno finishes at 18:00 and we have new champions as the crowd loses their damn mind. Well this one definitely lived up to the hype. ****1/2.
Women’s World title: Jamie Hayter v. Ruby Soho v. Saraya
Saraya quickly tosses Hayter into the stairs and throws her into the crowd, but Ruby dropkicks her from the apron and takes an awkward-looking bump on the floor. Looked like she miscalculated the landing area on that one. They fight into the crowd, and Saraya hauls Hayter into the ring to take over. They fight on the apron and Hayter slams her on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, but Ruby gets an STO on Jamie for two. Hayter fights off both women and suplexes both of them out of the corner, and a double lariat gets two on Saraya and then on Ruby. They all trade suplexes and we get a three way slugfest until Ruby hits Hayter with a short rana for two. They fight to the top and Saraya brings them down in a Tower of Doom for two and then gets the Scorpion crosslock on Ruby. Hayter saves with a lariat, but Saraya gets the Rampage DDT and then Ruby hits Saraya with Destination Unknown for two. Hayter blocks the Riot Kick, but Ruby rolls her up for two. Hayter rolls up Ruby in return and retains the title at 10:09. No need to take the title off Hayter at this point, so that was the right call. Good energetic match that didn’t overstay its welcome. ***1/4. The Mean Girls do the beatdown on Hayter afterwards, but Ruby chooses her side and makes the save…before turning on Hayter and joining the heels. Kinda hoping they would have just ended it here and moved on.
Texas Death match: Hangman Page v. Jon Moxley
Hangman attacks during the entrance and hauls him down to ringside for a trip into the railing, and they head into the ring and slug it out with chops. Page goes down first and takes the count, but Moxley finds some handy-dandy barbed wire at ringside, as you often do, only to lose it to Hangman. Moxley is BLEEDING (I know, shocking!) and Page wraps the wire around his own boot and stomps Mox with that. So Moxley gets his own barbed wire and slugs Page down with that for another count. So Mox of course has a fork in his boot and he suckers Hangman into a triangle and jabs him in the face with the fork a few times. So that’s pretty yucky. We get a barbed wire chair next, as Moxley wedges it into the corner and then runs Page into that before giving him a half-crab onto the barbed wire. Next up, we get the back-to-back chair spot that I hate so much, as Mox sets them up and then beats on Page in the corner until Page powerbombs him onto the chairs and thankfully just hits the seat of the chair with it. Both guys are down for the count, but Mox escapes to the floor, so Page wraps himself in barbed wire and moonsaults Moxley. Well this one is escalating quickly.
Speaking of which, Moxley finds bricks under the ring. Next up, he puts a barbed wire board onto a chair outside, but walks into a cutter in the ring for another count. And Mox uses the bricks to sandwich Page’s hand and brings a chain from the stash under the ring, and piledrives Page on that. Page beats that count, so Moxley hogties him and Page has to bite his way out of it. So back to the floor, Moxley puts a barbed wire board onto a pair of chairs, but Page fights back with a backdrop suplex and lariat. Page with some barbed wire forearms and a fallaway slam onto barbed wire followed by the Deadeye on the barbed wire. Moxley barely beats the count and bails to the floor for a breather, but Page dives and slams him onto the barbed wire board for an 8 count. Back in the ring, Hangman goes up and Mox brings him down and rakes the back, so Page gives it right back. So Mox escalates and rakes the back with barbed wire, and Hangman rubs it in his face. So Moxley has no choice but to slam Page into the barbed wire table at ringside, and Page beats the count at 9. Back in the ring, Moxley with a lariat for another count, but Page is up again. They slug it out and Page tries the Buckshot, but Moxley counters with the Death Rider and then curbstomps him onto the bricks, but Page won’t stay down. So Moxley chokes him out for another count, but Page still won’t take the hint, and he fights back with a chain-assisted lariat. Page with his own choke, but Moxley kicks him in the balls to break, so Page goes BRICK TO THE HEAD and then hits him with a buckshot lariat before choking him out with the chain until Moxley taps out at 25:00. God damn what a match. It went a little too far over the top by the end but you can’t argue with the results. Hopefully they use this to reheat Page and send him back to the World title scene again. ****1/2.
TNT title: Samoa Joe v. Wardlow
They have no chance to follow that last match. They brawl on the floor to start and Joe necks him on the ropes and hits him with a tope before running him into the post. Back in, Wardlow immediately fights back and slugs away in the corner before hitting a snap suplex. He drops an elbow on Joe and chokes away on the ropes, but Joe SWEEPS THE LEG and beats on him in the corner again. Joe with the slam and he goes to work on the knee with a kneebar before Wardlow makes the ropes. Wardlow fights back with a spinebuster and an F10, and he goes up with the swanton for two. Joe with the choke, but Wardlow makes the ropes to escape. Joe with a death valley driver for two. Joe tries for the Muscle Buster, but Wardlow counters him into a powerbomb, and Joe pops up with a lariat to escape the followup powerbomb. Joe teases his own symphony, but Wardlow escapes and gets his own choke on Joe to regain the title at 10:10. Well I wouldn’t have had Wardlow doing a rear naked choke on Samoa Joe on my bingo card. Match was fine but they weren’t gonna follow the Texas Death match and the crowd mostly treated this as an intermission. **1/4.
AEW World tag team title: The Gunns v. The Acclaimed v. Orange Cassidy & Danhausen v. Jeff Jarrett & Jay Lethal
We get some wackiness with Jeff Jarrett and Orange to start as Orange does the lazy strut before backdropping everyone, and the Friends double-team Lethal for a bit before Danhausen gets trapped in the Gunn corner. Orange saves and hits Colten with a high cross to put him on the floor for a dive, but Austin tags out to Lethal. Lethal Combination on Orange, but Orange hits the stunner and brings the Acclaimed in. So we get some more shtick as Sonjay takes Scissor Me Timbers again, but Jay and Jeff double-team Bowens in their corner. Gunns come in for some double-teaming on Bowens as well and Austin gets a delayed suplex to set up a four-way strut and scissoring. Caster gets the tag off that and runs wild before pulling down the imaginary straps and slamming Lethal for two.
Jarrett and Lethal toss him, but the Gunns turn on them, so Satnam tosses them out. Danhausen tries to curse him, but he’s too big, so Orange hits the Orange Punch on Satnam and Daddy Ass gives him a fameasser. Then the Gunns turn on their dad again and toss him out, but the Acclaimed drop the mic on Austin for two. Jarrett clears the ring and grabs his guitar for the big finish, but Caster steals that, and Lethal hits him with the Golden Globe for two. So Jarrett freaks out on Aubrey, but that allows Danhausen to run wild on Austin before the Gunns finish him off to retain at 13:28 and suck the air out of the crowd AGAIN. When the crowd literally goes silent for the finish, that’s not an effective heel. It’s like the 2023 version of X-Pac heat or something. Match was a lot of wacky stuff, not great, not bad. **1/2. Afterwards, Renee interviews the Gunns and they demand respect, but FTR returns and kicks their asses, so I guess they’re back and re-signed.
AEW World title, Iron Man match: MJF v. Bryan Danielson
They trade hammerlocks to start and Bryan takes him down with a leglock and bends him around with submissions to frustrate him. They trade hiptosses and headlocks, fighting to a stalemate off that with a double kip up. So Maxwell offers a handshake of friendship and Bryan kicks it away, resulting in Max retreating to the crowd to throw a drink on someone’s kid. “Maybe I won’t get the Bryan Danielson Award!” he snarks while running away from Danielson. Back in the ring, Danielson cradles him for two and goes for a full nelson before switching to a surfboard while raking the face. Luckily I hear that he has until five to break.
Bryan beats on him in the corner, but MJF fires back and backdrops him a few times to waste some time. Bryan cradles for two and gets his own backdrops, but MJF goes after the shoulder and run slams him into the corner for two. They head to the floor and Max runs him into the railing and then holds off on another attempt in order to troll the fans. Bryan fights back with a dive, but MJF runs him into the railing to counter, and back in the ring for a hammerlock DDT that gets two. Max with a back suplex, but they head to the top and Bryan brings him down with a powerbomb and then beats on him in the corner. To the top again for a rana that gets two. Bryan goes for another one, but Max blocks and gets the stomp on Bryan’s arm and the powerbomb onto the knee for two. Bryan catches him in the Lebell lock, but MJF catapults him over the top and superkicks him to give us some HBK cosplay.
But then he tries a moonsault and misses, allowing Bryan to take over again. Back in the ring, Bryan comes off the top, but lands in the armbar coming down, and MJF turns that into a pumphandle driver for two. Bryan fights back with an elbow and a small package for two. They trade headlocks and do a wacky rolling small package for assorted two counts and then trade sunset flips for two before MJF gets a backslide for two. More near-falls and MJF catches him with a lariat, so Bryan hits his own and both guys are down. And Bryan is up first with the bu saiku knee to win the first fall at 25:29.
Bryan with another try, but Max plays dead and then goes low on Bryan for the DQ at 27:00 and immediately rolls him up for a pair of pinfalls to take it to 2-2. So MJF takes a water break and tries the Heatseeker, but Bryan fights that off and puts him on the floor with a shotgun dropkick. They fight out there, but Bryan charges and MJF puts him down with a lariat before walking into one from Bryan. Danielson batters him with kicks out there and goes to work on the knee in the ring with the figure-four. MJF is all fired up and tries to slap his way out of it, but Bryan slaps him down again and encourages him to reverse the hold. When that doesn’t work, Max has to make the ropes and bails to the apron, where Bryan teases a Gotch piledriver before MJF tries a tombstone. They slug it out there and Bryan wins with leg kicks before taking him to the top rope, but Max fights him off by grabbing the post camera and then runs the bad shoulder into the post before putting him on the timekeeper table. This sets up an unlikely flying Macho elbow from MJF to put Bryan through the table, but Bryan barely beats the count at 9.
So with that having failed, MJF goes nuclear and tombstones Bryan through the remains of the table. Back in the ring, the Heatseeker gets the pin at 40:20 to make it 3-2. Max takes another water break while Bryan recovers, and beats on him to open Bryan’s cut further. MJF lays the badmouth on him, which doesn’t seem smart, and then threatens Bryan’s children, which REALLY doesn’t seem smart, and then calls himself “The Best in the World” repeatedly, which has gotta be going somewhere. Danielson fights up and MJF demands his best shot, then smacks him down again. But they head to the floor and Bryan runs him into the post and hits him with a running knee off the apron before following with a flying bodypress to the floor. Back in, Bryan crotches him on the top rope and follows with the Spider superplex and diving headbutt as MJF is busted open now, and that gets two. Bu saiku knee and Regal Stretch tie it up at 3-3 at 49:15.
Danielson goes right back to it again, but MJF counters him into the armbar, so Bryan counters that into the Lebell Lock and Max counters out for two and into the armbar before wrapping up all his limbs at once, only for Bryan to get a leg free and make the ropes. That was a great sequence. They slug it out on the mat and trade headbutts and they both go down off that, but that just makes Bryan happier and they trade chops off that. They trade strikes and MJF goes down, but he traps the arm on the ropes and hits the Heatseeker for two. MJF with another water break and they fight to the top, where Bryan beats on him with elbows, but Max brings him down with a tombstone and both guys are down again. That gets two for MJF, but Bryan suckers him into a half-crab and wrenches on the ankle while Max desperately tries not to tap and then taps out after time expires for the draw at 60:00. The crowd declares this to be bullshit, but Tony gets secret info from the other Tony and announces OVERTIME.
So Max shoves the ref, but Bryan rolls him up for two, and then Max goes low and rolls Bryan up for two. Max grabs the belt and the ref tells him to go ahead, but of course Max pulls out the ring, so Bryan hits him with a poison rana and the bu saiku knee for two. Bryan beats on the knee and goes back to the submission hold, which allows the ref to take the ring away, and Max again teases tapping out, but makes the ropes before doing so. But Bryan doesn’t see the rope break and thinks he’s won, which allows Max to grab an oxygen tank, smash Bryan out cold, and put him in the Lebell Lock. But Bryan fights out after two drops, only to be forced to tap out at 5:20. Took a bit to get going, but it turned into a tremendous roller coaster of emotion. Obviously we knew Bryan could pull it off, but kudos to Max for hanging in there with him. Also the water stuff was pretty clever, as Taz kept talking about how he was going to get blown up, which necessitated having an oxygen tank in there for him to use after his other weapons were exhausted. ****1/2.
Nothing bad, three great matches, and a reasonable running time makes this one a big thumbs up! 2023 has been a hell of a year for PPV thus far, you gotta say.